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Published: Friday, 7/13/2007

South Toledo scuffle with woman, 64, 'mutual combat,' couple says

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Kristina Calvin admitted yesterday that she punched a woman several times while waiting in the parking lot of Glendale-Feilbach Elementary School, but maintained it was not as an attack but as a means of self-defense.

A day after Barbara Duerson testified about what happened to her on Jan. 31 as she tried to pick up her granddaughter from the school, the couple accused of attacking her told their side of the story to a jury in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Specifically, the couple's testimonies claimed the altercation was not an attack on a 64-year-old woman but a "case of mutual combat."

Mrs. Calvin, 31, and her husband, Edward, 35, are each charged with felonious assault stemming from what prosecutors described as a "shameful" and "criminal" attack on Mrs. Duerson outside the school as parents lined up to pick up children.

Yesterday, both husband and wife testified about what they said happened.

"I would never turn my back on somebody like that. Her eyes - she was enraged," Mrs. Calvin responded when asked why she didn't leave after the interaction between her and Mrs. Duerson became physically aggressive.

"She was the one who was the aggressor," Mrs. Calvin said.

Mrs. Duerson testified Wednesday that she was confused as she was pulling into the school parking lot because she was unfamiliar with the layout. She found herself in a lane for buses and so tried to back out and head toward a parking spot.

She testified that she had hoped to edge in front of the Calvins' van to cut through toward the parking area. Instead, she was confronted by an angry Mrs. Calvin, who had gotten out of her vehicle and approached Mrs. Duerson.

The grandmother of five and great-grandmother of one then testified that Mrs. Calvin bumped her and when she told her to get off, the younger woman started beating her.

Mrs. Calvin said it was she who was pushed by Mrs. Duerson before the situation escalated. And after the second time she was pushed, Mrs. Calvin said she struck back.

"I'm not sitting here saying that I never hit her, I did," Mrs. Calvin said. "I was not going to let her assault me and get away."

Mr. Calvin, a security guard at Detroit Edison's Fermi II nuclear power plant in Michigan, said he saw his wife get pushed and then he saw the fight begin.

Both the Calvins testified that Mrs. Duerson was covered head to toe to protect herself from the cold, January air - including a surgical mask because she recently had all her teeth pulled - and so they were unable to determine her age.

The altercation continued after Mrs. Duerson got in her car and drove away. Mrs. Duerson said she heard Mrs. Calvin accuse her of hitting her with the car.

Mr. Calvin, who said he saw his wife get hit, said he ran to Mrs. Duerson's car in an attempt to stop what he perceived as a threatening situation to the people in the parking lot.

He said he never pulled Mrs. Duerson from her car.

Mrs. Duerson testified that she had bruises on her arm where Mr. Calvin grabbed her and tried to pull her from the car.

Mark Herr, a county assistant prosecutor, pointed out the inconsistencies between the Calvins' testimony and Mrs. Duerson's testimony during his closing argument yesterday.

He told the jury of six men and seven women to determine which of the parties involved was lying.

"He was mad. She was mad. They attacked her for no reason," he said of the Calvins, who have three children.

"It's unfortunate that these folks acted the way they did and what they did was a crime."

Mrs. Calvin's attorney, JP Smith, and George Gerken, who is representing Mr. Calvin, each asked the jury to remember that nobody knew Mrs. Duerson's size or age because of her extensive winter clothing.

Both also suggested that although Mrs. Duerson is probably not a liar, it was possible that she had forgotten months after the incident some of the details of the day.

"This is a case that involves a series of mistakes started by Barbara Duerson," Mr. Smith said. "Mrs. Duerson testified she was ashamed of it. Mrs. Calvin isn't proud of it, either. What really happened here is two women made bad decisions."

The jury deliberated for about an hour before ending for the day. They will return to Lucas County Common Pleas Court today to resume deliberations. Judge Frederick McDonald is presiding over the trial.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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